California Train Crash

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Tired Train Driver Crashes

Train drivers have a complicated, hard job. I’m sure they work long hours and travel many miles. Semi truck drivers are the same way, they have long hours, go new places, and have to constantly worry about other drivers and safety regulations.

According to federal investigators, on Monday acute fatigue as well as lack of familiarity was the likely cause of a driver of a work truck to turn onto the train tracks. The truck got and trailer got struck by the Southern California commuter train. The engineer sadly died and ended up injuring dozens more people.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report, The truck driver had been on duty for almost twenty four hours which is absolutely ridiculous for a truck driver. The driver had 17 hours of traveling time from Somerton, Arizona to a work site in Oxnard, California.

The crash happened on February 24, 2015 at 5:44 in the morning. The collision injured 32 Metrolink passengers as well as crew members.

Ventura County prosecutors filed a misdemeanor charge for vehicular manslaughter against the driver of the truck. The driver is a farm equipment repairman named Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez.

Investigation into Train Crash

Ramirez’s attorney said that he has made repeated attempts to get the vehicle off of the rails. He had to run for his life as the train approached the stuck vehicle. He was scared that the fuel he used to power some of the power tolls he uses might have caused an explosion.

The truck driver had started his journey in Somerton to Oxnard at 1:00 p.m. He used written directions and a cellphone navigation app to help him find his way, the trip was estimated to be a six hour, 350 mile trip.

There was radiator damage done to the truck that required getting a replacement truck. That caused a 4.5 hour delay in the trip which happened in Jacumba, California. Then, like usual when bad luck strikes, there was another delay. This time it was due to the truck was sideswiped by another vehicle in Los Angeles. That happened around 1:30 a.m.

The accident happened just sixty-five miles northwest of Lost Angeles. The area where it commercial and residential developments give way to agricultural fields.

Rail Crossing

Ramirez was traveling south down an avenue and was intending to turn at the next intersection, however if you’ve ever used a GPS then you know how easy it is to turn at the wrong time. The driver accidentally made a right turn onto the tracks. The rail crossing was marked with signals and gates. However, they weren’t activated because the train wasn’t approaching at the time.

According to the NTSB report, the time that the GPS app didn’t include the information on the rail crossings. If it had the driver probably wouldn’t have misinterpreted the visual cues which caused him to turn too early.

The report also said that several companies have agreed to incorporate such data from the Federal Railroad Administration into mapping as well as navigational apps. They aren’t sure how long this will take but they hope to do so very soon.

The Federal Railroad Administration informed the NTSB last year in June that it would be reviewing the information on the crossings for accuracy and hope to have all of it updated by the end of the year.

The truck had traveled around eighty feet down the tracks before it became stuck. NTSB report said that at one point the driver got out and tried to push the truck off the track as well as tried to call 911. The call fell through since the man was in such an understandingly panic. That’s when the truck was left with its headlights and hazard lights on as well as the door open.

GPS Investigation

The analysis of the GPS data from the driver’s cellphone showed that around 12 minutes elapsed between the time the truck got stuck and the time that the train struck it.

Train was crewed by an engineer, student engineer, and conductor was hauling 51 passengers at the time. This was on it’s run to east Los Angeles. The student engineer was at the controls, spotted a “obstruction” about a 1/4 of a mile from the crossing. The crash happened about eight seconds after he started the emergency braking.

According to the NTSB report, they say a test showed that the truck was visible from a distance of more than half a mile but the headlights of the approaching highway traffic converged with the truck’s lights. They think that this “masking” might have made it hard for the student engineer to understand the hazard.

The cab car is a passenger carriage that has operator controls at the front. It and three coach cars all derailed while the locomotive at the end of the train stayed on the tracks.

The Main engineer, sixty-two year old, Glenn Steele was badly injured and sadly died a week later. He was the longest serving engineer at the Metrolink.

Daniel Gibalevich – Train Accident Attorney Los Angeles

If you or someone you love is the victim of a train-related accident, you may be entitled to legal recourse to recover compensation for health or financial damages. Due to lessened safety measures compared to other motor vehicles, it is not uncommon for injuries sustained during significant train-related accidents to be extreme. Life after a serious accident can be physically and emotionally challenging and navigating the legal process to obtain compensation can be frustrating.

Understanding the Process

The window of time available to take legal action following a train-related accident is minimal, especially with the convoluted process of filing claims against government and commercially owned train lines. It essential that your personal injury attorney is experienced with the filing process specific to train-related accidents within the state of California.

Determining Liability

Whether you are the victim of a train-related accident resulting from negligence on the part of the train operator, product and manufacturer liability, malicious intent or wrongful death you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and damages. In developing a train-related personal injury lawsuit, it is important to clearly determine liable participants and the exact cause of the accident.

Daniel A. Gibalevich 
Law Offices of Daniel A. Gibalevich

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